ROCKPORT — Major changes are in store for The Peg Leg Inn, including new management and possibly new ownership.
For the past three years, the Peg Leg, at the corner of King and Beach streets, has been up for sale. The property's total value is listed at $1,058,200 by MassGIS, the Commonwealth's Bureau of Geographic Information.
The Rockport inn and restaurant have been open since 1959. According to records on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website, ownership moved to Welcome Inc., with Rockport resident Robert Welcome serving as president. In 1997, the inn shifted hands again to its current owner, M.R. Welcome Inc., with Robert's son Michael as president. Michael served as manager and innkeeper until 2016 when Robert took back the role. Since then, Michael and Gary Lucas of Rockport have all had a hand in management duties.
Starting next week, however, Michael Welcome won't be welcomed back at the inn.
Selectmen, after a hearing last week, voted to order M.R. Welcome Inc. to take out a no-trespass order on its innkeeper before this Friday, Aug. 23. Since the hearing and until Friday, Michael Welcome, 52, was told he would be be allowed to assume operations or interact with guests or employees.
Selectmen also ordered he move out from his apartment, which is located at 3R Smith St. on the inn's property.
The Welcome family declined to comment on this story.
The Peg Leg was in danger of losing its innkeeper license, as recommended by Town Administrator Mitch Vieira. Selectmen, thinking of the employees and current tenants, had other plans. However, if the inn does not get its affairs in order before this Friday, Aug. 23, selectmen will suspend the inn's license for the remainder of its season, which ends Oct. 21.
The ruling comes in wake of Michael Welcome's arrest on Aug. 5, around 10:30 a.m., on King Street, the same street where the inn is located. He was charged with disorderly conduct, two counts of indecent assault and battery and one count of assault and battery. Welcome was arraigned in Gloucester District Court and released on a $2,500 cash bail. His next court date is Monday, Sept. 16.
Police Chief John Horvath initially brought the matter forward to selectmen, believing Welcome's behavior was a danger to public safety and health. At the hearing, Horvath testified that Rockport police have received "dozens, if not more" of calls to the The Peg Leg over the years, resulting in "hundreds of pages of documents" cataloged at the Rockport Police Department.
"It's an escalation of concerning activity and behaviors that have affected employees of that location as well as alleged to have taken place in front of patrons," he said. "It's certainly my duty as a public servant to bring this information to the board for consideration since a license has been issued to that location."
According to the notice given to Welcome for the hearing, the town counsel cited "ongoing criminal investigations, criminal allegations involving Michael Welcome, pending criminal charges involving Michael Welcome, allegations of improper and inappropriate conduct towards staff by Michael Welcome, reports of Michael Welcome's intoxication at the premises, as well as allegations of alcohol have been placed in beverages for guests to consume."
According to the Times' archives, Welcome was arrested in 2015, accused of riding around Gloucester in a cab for two hours then refusing to pay the driver. The charges were to be dismissed when he paid restitution.
It wasn't the first time he was accused of refusing to pay for a cab. In 2007, he was arrested on a similar charge involving a Beverly cab driver. A month after that incident he was charged with punching an off-duty Salem police officer in the head at a Salem hotel.
And in September 2007, Welcome was sentenced to 90 days in jail for disorderly conduct involving a guest at his motel, the Peg Leg Inn. Welcome was on probation for a 2004 assault and battery and has a record of drunken driving stemming from two drunken-driving arrests in the same month. At the time, Gloucester District Court Judge Richard Mori told Welcome to "get a hold" of his problem before he kills someone.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.